Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Muscle Beach Inc. - Arnold J. Hansen

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Muscle Beach Inc. is housed in the building shown in the photos above. Left to right on top photos: an adjustable incline bench at rear; flat bench in front; weight racks are cans filled with concrete. Photo 2 shows the rugged lat pulley that will hold unlimited poundages. Dressing rooms are in the rear. Photo 3 shows several of the lifting platforms. One is 13 feet square, while the others are 10 feet square. Photo 4, second row, shows the hack machine and abdominal boards. Photo 5 is a closeup of the 10 foot platform in use. Those are 135-lb. plates standing in the rear. Photo 6 shows the unusual squat racks the members have built. Rubber capped pins set in 4x4's are spaced to permit use for overhead support lifts as well as squats in quarter down to full squats and heavy half-deadlifts.
Left to right, starting at top: Photo 1 shows the "staircase" squat rack, a novel idea. In front being used is the dip bar area. This also has a slotted overhead power lift rack. Photo 2 shows a chin bar of two diameters, skip ropes and several tape measures, for the tape-happy trainers. Photo 3 is a general view of the dumbbell area. They go up to 135's. Photo 4 shows Jim Hamilton, who teaches physical chemistry, doing incline bench presses while postman Wes Johnson and Dick Abbott, a university student, spot him. Photo 5 shows two of the boys chinning and benching. In Photo 6 we see the dumbbell racks made of planks and milk crates.

Muscle Beach Incorporated:
A New Organization of Great Promise
by Arnold J. Hansen (1959)

Muscle Beach W.C.
118 Broadway (rear)
Santa Monica, California

This story begins sometime during the nebulous past. It seems that in the late thirties or early forties someone brought their barbell to the beach. With a pleasant year-round climate, bright warm sunshine, broad blue Pacific, clean sandy beach, beautiful semi-tropical surroundings and congenial companions who were interested in health, working out on the beach was a natural.

Growth took place. More weights, more equipment, and more members. Then it happened. Someone decided that they did not want the Muscle Beach area as such longer. Through various channels and processes the club activity terminated.

At this time and at the present time the club was and is composed mainly of a group of individuals of a high caliber. Our vocational range includes the following: postmen, chemist, furniture movers, physician, mechanical engineers, machinists, chiropractor, electrician, draftsman, physical therapist, wrestlers, factory workers, assemblers, mathematicians - one of whom also teaches chemistry, certified public accountant, a factory owner, author, movie actor, lawyer, college students, geologist, high school science teacher, elementary school teacher, gym managers, police officers, supermarket operator, and many more.

A very fine gentleman, now retired, offered to store the weights in his basement until the time arrived when they could again be used. We owe him a debt of gratitude. At that time also, a small group of weight men donated their services and hauled the weights to the basement for storage.

During the months of September and October of this year certain men put their heads together and decided that, for the present at least, it would be a good idea to house the weights somewhere indoors. Club meetings were held, heated discussions took place during the latter part of October, and finally our new location opened early in November for the serious business of training. We are training.

During the period when the weights were stored, a number of small garage-type gyms served some of our members very well. Some have joined us and others will still train, at least partially, in their home gyms.

Our Muscle Beach Weightlifting Club is directed mainly by a dedicated nucleus of interested individuals. This group is composed of a president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, and five councilmen. They are all working-type officers -- chair-warmers and dead wood have no place in our club. Our time and patience leaves no room for the "popularity poll" type of officer nor the "executive type" -- there is work to be done. Regular members also have the opportunity to take full part in the proceedings of our regular Saturday afternoon meetings.

We had very little money and there are expenses such as rent, lights, etc.; therefore, we made much of our equipment out of used material. For the various jobs to be done we have depended on the talent of the members. Also, some loaned their cars, tools, pickup truck, and other equipment of various types. A radio was given for the gym itself and a T.V. was given for the office/lounge; the so-called office/lounge was formerly the bake oven for the automobiles that were painted here. More about the building later. One of our members is a house-wrecker; we received a good supply of much needed used lumber for platform building, squat racks, long lat pull, dip bars, bench platforms, power rack, etc. A coat of paint gave the final touch.

We are incorporated. Again, one of our members, a lawyer, came to the rescue with his specialty. Our mission statement is: "The Promotion of Weightlifting and Bodybuilding." We have the usual police permit and building license.

A word about the building. It is an industrial type, 50' x 85' formerly used as an automobile paint shop. The walls and ceiling are not beautiful, there is no wall-to-wall carpet, our legs seem to care little for such luxuries when straining under a heavy squat; also, our prones seem to go better when looking high into the rugged rafters. The bake oven lends itself well with the office/lounge. Frankly, we find it adequate, paint test-spots and all. Rough and rugged.

We rented it from a lady who is a retired osteopathic surgeon. She feels the youth of the nation are weak and therefore was very happy to rent the place to us for this purpose.

Our members cover a wide age range. One of our members is 50 years of age and improving steadily. He prones 370 pounds and military presses 269; he has done 270 in rough form.

Our oldest member is 84 and still works out. Tell that to the youth of the nation.

Already, with a booming membership of real huskies, it is evident that there will be many fine records made here; several are bench pressing over 400 and rising steadily.

This may possibly be the most functional gym this side of the Iron Curtain. A club of this sort can be a reality in towns throughout this nation. A number of gyms of this type could mean the difference between success and failure in our upcoming Olympic games. A dedicated group can make a start.

The most phenomenal aspect of our situation was the fact that once the move was started cooperation came from all directions. Dwell on the positive, start the thing, and keep it rolling with hard work which is, after all, the true secret of success in any field.

The gym is operated by the members, many of whom have keys to the regular lock. A master lock is put on at 10 at night and taken off at nine in the morning; the president has the only key to this lock. The big brother form of instruction is in force as there is no regular instructor. Our four officers and five councilmen reserve the right to terminate the membership of any member who seriously hinders the club objectives.

The sands of Muscle Beach are now peaceful and relatively quiet. We are happy in our new location. May all live in peace and contentment for a time but not forever as that would put an end to progress.

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